The Island of Madagascar/Chapter 5
We have thus far followed such glimpses of the history of Madagascar as the operations of the English and their missionaries furnish us, with occasional references to the long and persistent efforts which the French have from time to time made in that quarter; and we come now to speak of an attempt to improve the condition of the government of the island and of the people which appears to be wholly French, both in its design and execution. The object in view, in making this attempt, would appear to be of the most philanthropic kind, but the peculiar mode of effecting it, was more suited to the brilliant genius of the French than to the slower and surer course of action which characterizes the English. In short, a French gentleman by the name of Lambert sought to accomplish by a brilliant, diplomatic feat, by one single coup d'état, as much as the English had done by long and toilsome years of patient missionary effort. His combinations were of the most approved kind, according to the ideas of those who proceed in this way to carry out their benevolent designs, and the actors in the diplomatic charade were all skillfully chosen, and artistically assigned and arranged to their respective parts. The usual simulated antagonism between the parties, some being in favor and some against, some coarse,and offensive in their manners, and some polite, smiling and kindly, in which the secret societies of France are such adepts, was not forgotten, together with the skillfully manufactured false rumors which are conceived so necessary by those societies to attain a good end. These characters were Mr. Lambert himself, the celebrated Madame Pfeiffer, the great traveler, Mr. Latrobe, a French gentleman, residing at the capital of Madagascar, Madamoiselle Julie and her two brothers, Prince Rokoto, Mr. Marius, and severel French missionaries, who, in half disguise to escape persecutions from the Queen, were residing in the island.
Mr. Lambert was a large sugar-planter, in the Island of Mauritius, having under his control some six hundred laborers and two thousand acres of land, which produced from two to three millions pounds of sugar annually. Though like the planters of the Mauritius and Island of Bourbon generally, receiving the beef and rice for his laborers from Madagascar, he never visited that island until 1855. Seeing the wanton wretchedness and misery which the Queen inflicted upon her people, a generous wish arose within his breast to free them from her tyrannical control. He easily gained the friendship of the amiable Prince Rakoto, who declared that he cared not who ruled over the island so long as the government was good and just, and they soon came to an understanding, and entered into treaty stipulations, Mr. Lambert intending to seek assistance from either the French or English government.
Accordingly, in the year 1856, he went to Paris, and in a private interview with the Emperor, laid open the boundless misery to which the people of Madagascar were exposed from their government, and appealed to him for help in their behalf. Failing to elicit the sympathy of the Emperor in a philanthropic object. which might not fully accord with the political interests of France, Mr. Lambert proceeded to England, and laid the matter before the English Minister, Lord Clarendon. But instead of deriving aid from this quarter, he imagined that obstacles were thrown in his way by the London Missionary Society, who feared, it is said, that in the event of the French occupation of the island, the Roman religion might be the only form of worship introduced and licensed, which, in their opinion, would be a much greater misfortune for the inhabitants than even the cruel sway of Ranavalona herself. It is even charged that the Society determined to oppose Mr. Lambert's designs, and sent an especial missionary for this purpose to Tananarivo, to acquaint the Queen of what his designs were.
On Mr. Lambert's return to the Mauritius in November, 1856, he stopped at Cape Town, South Africa, where he met, as if by accident, with Madame Pfeiffer. In her extensive travels over the globe she had long entertained an ardent desire to visit the Island of Madagascar. A native of Vienna, the capital of Austria, she had now attained the age of sixty years, and was on her second voyage to the Dutch East India possessions. On arriving at Cape Town, Mr. Lambert went on board her ship, introduced himself to her, said that he had heard while in Paris of her intention to visit Madagascar, and invited her to accompany him to that island. He had written to the Queen, from Paris, he said, for permission to land in the island, for no one was permitted to land there without her approval, and he had no doubt but that he could gain permission for the landing of Madame Pfeiffer also. But in consequence of the rainy season, the voyage there could not be undertaken till the following April. In the meantime, however, she could spend the interval at his house in the Mauritius.
With equal surprise and delight Madame Pfeiffer accepted this invitation. Though Sir George Gray, the Governor of the Cape, offered to accompany her on a journey through the territory if she would stay, yet nothing could induce her to give up the prospect of a visit to Madagascar. At the Mauritius she was warned against Mr. Lambert as a very dangerous man; but whether she suspected any of his designs or not, she was determined to accompany him on his journey to Tananarivo.
At length on the 25th of April, 1857, Madame Pfeiffer embarked on board an old Trafalgar battle-ship, then a cattle transport from Madagascar to Mauritius, for Tamatavé, where she was joined by Mr. Lambert on the 15th of May. Previous to sailing for Madagascar, Mr. Lambert visited Zanzibar and Mozambique on behalf of the French Government, for the purpose of hiring negro laborers for the Island of Bourborn. This was a new species of slave-trade, invented by the French and acquiesced in by the English. The negro was designed to be in servitude only five years, and was to receive two dollars per month from his master besides board and lodging. After his five years had expired, he might find his way back to Africa if he had saved money enough to pay his passage, which, however, one can readily conceive there might be many obstacles and opposing interests to prevent; for the interests of planters are hardly more in accordance with the purer motives of philanthropy than are the politics of States.
At Tamatavé, while waiting for Mr. Lambert, Madame Pfeiffer became the guest successively of Madamoiselle Julie to whom Mr. Lambert had given her a letter, and of her two brothers who had estates in the vicinity. These persons had received a French education either in Bourbon or Paris, and yet they preferred to lapse into barbarism instead of living up to the standard of civilization. Madamoiselle Julie kept a harbor boarding-house; and at times there were as many as five vessels in the harbor.
At length, the journey for the capital was commenced on the 19th of May. The party consisted of Mr. Marius, Mr. Lambert and Madame Pfeiffer. Mr. Marius was a Frenchman, who had resided on the island twenty years. He undertook the office of interpreter and the general direction of the journey. It required four hundred men to bear the presents which Mr. Lambert had provided, from his own purse, at a cost of nearly forty thousand dollars, for the Queen and Prince Rakoto. These presents consisted of rich Parisian dresses for the Queen and Princesses of her family, a splendid uniform, embroidered with gold, for the Prince, valuable objects of art of all kinds, including musical clocks, barrel organs, etc. The carriers of these presents received nothing for their services, such labor in Madagascar being compulsory. Besides these carriers there were two hundred for the travelers and their own personal baggage, who were paid by Mr. Lambert. For the whole distance of two hundred miles from Tamatavé to Tananarivo, each bearer is usually allowed only one dollar without food; but in this case they were delighted in receiving rations besides their pay.
The objects along the route were new and full of interest to Madame Pfeiffer, and everything went on smoothly and pleasantly, the journey seeming like a triumphal procession during the latter part of the way. Among the curious objects that arrested the attention, was the multiplicity of lightning rods that were seen, every large house seeming to be provided with one. These had been introduced by Mr. Latrobe, as a protection against the peculiarly violent thunder-storms that prevail in that region. As many as three hundred persons were killed annually, it was said, in Tananarivo alone, by lightning though this is doubtless a great exaggeration. On drawing near the capital the procession was met by a young son of Prince Rakoto five years old, whom Mr. Lambert had adopted as his own at his previous visit, also by adherents of the Prince's officers of high rank, a corps of singing girls, and throngs of curious people. A band of music that had been sent out for the purpose led the van, while a crowd of soldiers and citizens followed up the rear. At length, after several delays, occasioned by awaiting the Queen's final determination, which was never arrived at until the Sikidy had been carefully consulted, the party entered the gates of the city, and proceeded to the house of Mr. Latrobe.
This gentleman was born in France, and was the son of a saddler. He had served awhile in the cavalry, but after his father’s death, growing sick of the service, and having a roving disposition, he procured a substitute, and embarked for the East Indies. In Bombay he established several workshops, repaired steam engines, manufactured weapons and saddlery, and did a good business. But owing to a restless spirit, he gave up his workshops to a friend, and in 1831 embarked for the Indian Archipelago. The ship, driven out of her course by a storm, was wrecked on the Island of Madagascar, and he not only lost all he possessed, but was reduced to slavery and taken to the capital to be sold. His skill in manufacturing weapons and other articles coming to the knowledge of the Queen, she entered into an agreement with him to give him his liberty if he would serve her faithfully for five years. Establishing a workshop, he furnished the Queen with all kinds of weapons, powder, and even small cannons, and so highly did she esteem his opinions that she consulted him in several important affairs, yielding not unfrequently to his appeals in behalf of those who had been sentenced to death. And not only was he favored by the Queen, but he became very popular with the nobles and people, to whom he acted as physician, confidential friend and helper. The five years passed away, and as he had received from his patroness house, home, and slaves, and had married a native woman, by whom he had a son, he gradually became radicated to the soil. Though free to go, yet he chose to stay, and in course of time he established other work-shops for glass-blowing, indigo dyeing, soap and tallow boiling, and a distillery for rum. He also strove to introduce European fruits into the island, though his example in this respect was not readily followed by the natives.
At Mr. Latrobe’s house the travelers were introduced to two clergymen, Europeans, who, though missionaries, feared to have the fact known, and in consequence were for the time being under the protecting roof of their friend, one as a physician, and the other as a tutor to Mr. Latrobe’s son, who had returned from Paris, where he had been sent to be educated. Mr. Latrobe's style of living was sumptuous in the extreme, his table being loaded with luxuries served on massive silver, and his champagne being drunk from silver goblets, a style which he had introduced himself for economy’s sake to save china ware, and in which he had been initiated by the nobles. While the travelers were at dinner, and the champagne was being handed round, a slave came running in to announce Prince Rakoto. In a moment afterwards the Prince himself entered and rushed into Mr. Lambert's arms, and the two remained for a long time in each other’s embrace, without finding words to express their joy.
Thus far everything had gone on brilliantly and to the satisfaction of the parties concerned. Nor were flattering appearances destined to end yet, Mr, Lambert and his lady companion had the honor of being introduced at Court; Madame Pfeiffer was invited to play the piano before the Queen; a splendid fancy ball was got up among the nobles, excelling in some respects the flare and gayety of Paris itself, and, to crown all, Mr. Lambert and Madame Pfeiffer were urged by the Queen to dance together a pas de deux at Court! This reasonable wish of the Queen was announced to the astonished couple by Prince Rakoto in person, and when we consider the work in which they were engaged it seemed rather like a bitter sarcasm than as the mere curiosity of a simpled-minded barbarian. Sickness was pleaded as an excuse for not complying with this request, Mr. Lambert suffering from the fever.
At length, on the 6th of June, a grand dinner was given in honor of Prince Rakoto by Mr. Latrobe in his garden-house. The dinner-party was bright and cheerful, and Mr. Lambert was in the highest spirits. The feast was followed by music and dancing until ten o'clock at night, when, at the request of Mr. Lambert, Madame Pfeiffer broke up the party, alleging the effects of a previous indisposition for so doing. Favored by a bright moonlight, the party marched away from the summerhouse to the strains of merry music, ina manner calculated to lull all suspicions as to the covert conspiracy that was going on under this fair exterior. The party being dismissed, Prince Rakoto and Mr. Lambert called Madame Pfeiffer into a side room of Mr. Latrobe’s dwelling house; and the Prince assured her for a second time that the private contract between Mr. Lambert and himself had been drawn up with his entire concurrence, and that it was a gross calumny that he was intoxicated when he signed it. He said that Mr. Lambert had come to Madagascar by his wish, and with the intention, in conjunction with himself and a portion of the nobility and soldiers, to remove Queen Ranavalona from the throne, but without depriving her of freedom, her wealth, or the honors which were her due.
Mr. Lambert, on his part, informed her that the dinner had been given at Mr. Latrobe’s garden-house because everything could be more quietly discussed there; that she had been requested to break up the party in order that it might appear to have been given in her honor, and finally, that they had gone through town with noisy music in order that the object might appear to be mere social entertainment. She was then shown in the house a complete little arsenal of guns, sabres, daggers, pistols, and leather shirts of mail for arming the conspirators, and informed that every preparation had been made, and that the time of action might be looked for every hour.
The decisive day, however, was not fixed upon until the 20th of June, when the following plan was to be carried into execution. The Prince was to dine at eight o’clock in the evening with Mr. Lambert, Marius, Latrobe and his son, in the garden-house belonging to the latter, and to that point all the reports from the other conspirators were to be carried, in order that it might be known how every thing was progressing, and whether every man was at his post. After the dinner, at eleven o’clock at night, the gentlemen were to march home to the upper part of the town, accompanied by music, as if returning from a feast; and every man was then to remain quiet in his own house until two o’clock. At that hour, all the conspirators were to steal silently into the palace, the gates of which Prince Raharo, the Chief of the army, was to keep open, and guarded by officers devoted to Prince Rakoto; they were to assemble in the great court-yard, in front of the Queen's appartments, and at a given signal loudly to proclaim Prince Rakoto King! The new ministers, who had already been nominated by the Prince, were to explain to the Queen that this was the will of the nobles, the military, and the people; and, at the same time, the thunder of cannon from the royal palace was to announce to the people the change in the government, and deliverance from the sanguinary rule of Queen Ranavalona!
But unluckily, this bright scheme was not carried out. The combination did not work. While the chief conspirators were still at table, they received from Prince Raharo the disastrous news that, from unforseen obstacles, he had found it impossible to fill the palace exclusively with officers in the Prince's interest, that he could not consequently keep the gates open that night, and that the attempt must be deferred to some more favorable opportunity. In vain did the Prince send messenger after messenger to him. He could not be induced to risk an attempt; and the plan wholly failed.
Prince Rakoto had headed a similar conspiracy in 1856; the hour had been fixed on, but everything miscarried through the apparent sudden defection of the commander-in-chief of the army. It was suspected that this one of the principal actors in the scheme was in fact false to his engagements, that he was faithful to the Queen, and at heart a partisan of Prince Ramboasalama, the cousin and rival of Prince Rakoto, and whom, previous to the birth of Rakoto, the Queen had declared her heir and successor.
It was on the day succeeding this failure of Mr. Lambert’s diplomatic arrangements that he and his lady friend received an invitation to dance the pas de deux at the palace—certainly a provoking conclusion to such a brilliant and promising beginning!
But if the affair had ended here, it would have been well. Unfortunately the reaction fell in redoubled force upon the native Christians. A great Kabary was called by the Queen for the purpose of hunting out and punishing with death all who remained true to their Christian belief. A considerable number were discovered and put to the most insufferable torture. One old woman was dragged into the market-place, and had her backbone sawn asunder. The Europeans were confined in their own quarters, and kept in a constant state of apprehension as to their fate. One consideration alone seemed to operate in their behalf; and that was that in case they should be put to death, the European governments might exact from the government of Madagascar a terrible retribution.
In the midst of the Queen’s disfavor, however, she sent to Mr. Lambert for the presents which he had brought, and they were sent up to the palace. But they were presently returned, and Mr. Lambert, Mr. Marius, the two other Europeans, and Madame Pfeiffer were ordered to depart from the city within an hour. Mr. Latrobe was allowed to remain twenty-four hours longer, and to carry off all his movable property except slaves. His son might choose either to go or stay, just as he pleased. They were allowed carriers for themselves and property (including the presents), and a military escort was assigned to them, which appeared to execute its orders to the very letter, if we can judge by the inconvenience to which they put the party. The journey from the capital to Tamatavé is usually performed in eight days; but on this occasion the party were detained on the route fifty-three days, and at times in low, swampy places, as if the design was that they should die from the fever. At last, however, after suffering every conceivable hardship, embittered by indignities of the most disgraceful character, the party arrived at Tamatavé, and the Commandant of the military escort saw them on board of a vessel bound for the Mauritius, where they arrived on the 22d of September.
When leaving Tananarivo, and while passing through the market-place, they saw, as a parting scene, and as a horrid comment on their benevolent efforts, ten Christians who were being tormented and killed.
Madame Pfeiffer asserts that the London Missionary Society had sent a chosen member to forewarn the Queen of Mr. Lambert's designs, to assure her that the English government desired ardently to continue the same friendly relations with her country which had existed in the time of George IV., represented Mr. Lambert as a spy in the employment of the French government, and predicted that he would speedily make his appearance, accompanied by a body of French troops, to depose her in favor of her son: that the missionary read a long lecture to Prince Rakoto on the exceeding turpitude of his conduct in meditating a revolt against his royal mother, declaring that the English government had been so shocked by the news as to put on mourning: that the Prince consented to excuse himself, by asserting in reply that had he indeed intended such an act he would have merited reproach; but that such was not the case, as he merely wished to deprive the Queen of the power of perpetrating cruelties, every other privilege being retained by her, and as for himself he asked nothing at all: that the missionary had boasted everywhere that he had been invited to Madagascar by the Queen, and that he had been favorably received by her and the Prince, while the facts in the case were that after a short stay at the capital of four weeks, he was ordered to leave, against his remonstrances on account of the unhealthiness of the season, the Queen being highly exasperated against him for distributing Bibles, and the Prince resenting his behavior toward Mr. Lambert.
We mention these charges merely to show more clearly to the mind of the reader the great temptations to which missionaries are often exposed, to interfere with political matters, and thus to overlook the first great principle of their Divine Master, who rejected the offered control of all the Kingdoms of the world. If there has been any one thing that operated more than another to destroy the usefulness of the Romish missionaries in their long labors in the East, a field that has been open to them more than three hundred years, and in which their success in spreading the Gospel has amounted to little, or nothing, it is a neglect of this vital principle, and an exhibition, on the other hand, of a great aptness to proceed at once to meddle with the political relations of the countries which they visit. True religion possesses a moral dignity that rejects the suggestions of mere political cunning the moment that they are offered; and the missionary can seldom or never attain to any desirable end unless this dignity distinguishes every trait of his daily walk and ministration.
Another night of heathen superstition and darkness settles upon the Island of Madagascar, in which idolatry and persecution prevail like feverish dreams. But this state of things was not destined to a long continuance. Queen Ranavalona was already advanced in years, being some seventy years or more in age, and her death therefore was an event that might be expected to occur at any moment. It took place, in fact, in 1861.
Prince Rokoto ascended the throne as Radama II.; and he immediately sent a message to the Governor of the Mauritius inviting free intercourse, stating that he had proclaimed commercial liberty throughout his territory, with equitable customs regulations at all the ports; that he had intimated that he was not disposed to accept the protection of France or of any other power, and to have appointed an Englishman, long a faithful adherent, as his Prime Minister; that he had also declared his preference for protestant Christianity, and had written letters to protestant missionaries at the Mauritius and the Cape, informing them that the land is once more open to the preachers of the Gospel.
As might be expected, Mr. Lambert and Pere Jouan who was one of the priests in disguise at the capital of Madagascar at the time of Mr. Lambert's diplomatic visit there, made haste to pay their respects in person to the new sovereign. They were shortly followed by two Romish priests; and it became manifest that it was their design to make Romanism the prevailing religion of the island. The newspaper press in the Island of Bourbon boldly asserted the right of France to the supreme political power in Madagascar, and to the submission of that island as a dependency of the Imperial government. The press of Paris assumed the same ground; and on the doors of Romish churches in Cork, Ireland, were posted the following notice:—Young men wanted for Missionaries to Madagascar.
An embassy was sent to the island by the Governor of the Mauritius to present the congratulations of the English Government to Radama on his ascension to the throne; and the English Government prepared to maintain the independence of the new sovereign. The directors of the London Missionary Society at once took measures to resume its labors in that island, using, for this purpose, funds that had been especially donated many years before, and which had not been diverted to any other object. Mr. Ellis embarked again for Madagascar in November, 1861, having concluded arrangements by which he was to be followed in a short time by a corps of six missionaries.
The Christians who had endured so long a persecution and were still alive, now came forth from their hiding places, from prison and places of torture, and the people were astonished to see what a considerable number had escaped with their lives. Subsequent events showed that there must have been some 7,000 Christians in the island. Some of them could not walk, from the enfeeblement occasioned by the heavy fetters with which their limbs had been loaded. The King told them to write to their friends in London, and to tell them that King Radama II. reigned, and that whoever wishes to come up can come.
Mr. Ellis arrived at Tananarivo about the middle of June, 1862, and was received with great cordiality by the King, officers of the government, and pastors and members of churches. Thirty miles from the capital he was met by a large number of Christians from there. As the two parties approached each other, the party from the capital commenced singing praises to God, in which the party with Mr. Ellis joined until they met and halted. The welcome extended to the English missionaries was of the warmest and most impressive kind. Hundreds crowded their doors continually, and thronged the churches on the Sabbath from an early hour in the morning till late in the afternoon.
Romish priests and sisters of mercy were present at the capital urging their peculiar views upon the people; but the preference for the protestant ideas, books, and modes of worship was evident and decided. The King gave assurance of perfect liberty of conscience to every one to worship as he pleased. He opened the prison doors and set the Christian captive free. He dispatched messengers to recall the remnant of the condemned ones from remote and pestilential districts, to which they had been banished, and where numbers had died from disease and exhaustion, occasioned by the rude and heavy bars of iron with which they had been chained, neck and neck together. He sent to remote and hostile tribes presents and messages which made them his fast friends; and he abolished the tangena, sikidy, and other idolatrous usages.
But the King, who had been so forward to assume the cares and responsibilities of the government, was little aware of the troubles that were in store for him. The conflicting interests of Paganism, Protestantism and Romanism, which now centered upon the capital, and, it may be said, upon the head of the State himself, were enough to disconcert a wiser and more experienced man than he. If amidst the perplexities thus occasioned he should become disconcerted, inconsistent and confused, and should even take to drink, as a counter excitement to the annoyances which he met with in the administration of the government, it is no more than we have frequently seen in the United States on the part of men who have been ranked among our ablest and best of statesmen. The character of the King, in the course of a few months, seemed to undergo a change. But though distinguished for amiable qualities and an instinctive hatred of cruelty, he had never become a Christian. An impulsive and excitable temperament exposed him to certain evil influences thrown around him; and while naturally inclined to superstition, and when under the influence of strong drink, he behaved, at times, it is said, like a madman. Without the ability or experience to meet the requirements of the new condition of things, he became a time-server, siding at one time with the Pagans, at another with the Romanists, and at another with the Protestants, and thus endeavored by exciting the jealousies and self-interests of the various parties, to keep the power in his own hands. He was a fit subject to be acted on by crafty and designing men; and unfortunately the temptation to act upon him was only too great. The consequences to the King proved disastrous. He was assassinated on the 12th of May, 1863, in his palace, by a party of nobles led by his Prime Minister.
In the course of the contest between the King and his nobles, he had claimed that he alone was sovereign, and that his word alone was law; and that his person was sacred, and that he would punish severely the oppressers of his will, an idea of kingly authority natural to all those who exercise it, but which the people of the Western world have succeeded in reducing to some limitations. It was natural, too, that the King should strive to maintain the authority and prerogatives which he had inherited from his ancestors, and claim to be the judge how far the innovations being inevitably wrought upon it by the labors of the missionaries should extend. It is needless to go into the details of this sad affair, and point out the last step in in the line of action pursued by the Prime Minister that led to the murder of the King; it is sufficient to state that a direct issue was made between the absolution of the King and the more liberal usages of the people of Western Europe, which issue was perhaps inevitable, and in which one party must meet with defeat, sealed and signalized by death. Yet we may mention one of the incidents in the contest which will serve to show the manner in which it was carried on. Formerly a certain form of respect had been paid to the idols when they were borne through the streets of the capital, and altogether unlike that which the Romanists exact for the host when it appears in public; and the King ordered similar demonstrations of respect, the lifting of hats, whenever the sick were carried through the streets. This was a kind of a compromise with Romanism and Paganism which the English decidely refused to comply with, and which of course served to hasten matters to their final issue. It was plain that one of the three conflicting powers must have the ascendency.
The King, though surrounded by his faithful detective police called the Mena maso, “red eyes,” from the supposed continued strain to their eyes from difficult investigation, felt himself at last reduced to the necessity of legitimatizing murder in order to defend his authority from further encroachments. He announced his intention of issuing an order that any one who wished to fight with fire-arms, swords, or spears, might do so with impunity, even though death should result as a consequence. An order which, if carried out, would have placed all Europeans and Christians at the mercy of the idolaters of the island.
Under the direction of the Prime Minister the palace was surrounded by troops; several of the Mena maso were captured and killed, and the others demanded of the King. These he felt compelled to deliver up, though stipulating for their lives; and they were sent away to be ironed, as Christians had been under the reign of Ranavalona. The few troops with the King refused to fire upon those surrounding the palace, and the people, though pitying him, did not take up arms in his defence.
Soon after the death of the King, four of the chief nobles went to the Queen, with a written paper, which they handed to her, containing the conditions on which they proposed that the country should in future be governed. They requested her to read it, stating that if she consented to govern according to these conditions, they were willing that she should be the sovereign of the country, but that if she objected or declined, they must seek another ruler. The Queen, after reading the document, and listening to it, and receiving explanations on one or two points, expressed her entire and full consent to govern according to the plan therein set forth. The nobles then said, “We also bind ourselves by this agreement. If we break it, we shall be guilty of treason; and if you break it, we shall do as we have done now.”
According to this document, the word of the sovereign alone ‘was not to be law, but the nobles and heads of the people, together with the sovereign, were to make the laws.
Perfect liberty and protection were guaranteed to all foreigners who were obedient to the laws of the country.
Protection and liberty to worship, teach, and promote the extension of Christianity, were secured to the native Christians, and the same liberty and protection were guaranteed to those who were not Christians.
The wife of Radama II., who ascended the throne, was not a Christian, but while personally devoted to her idols and the sikidy, she remained true to her engagements. Instead of throwing obstacles in the way of the missionaries, she even encouraged attendance on religious worship and Christian instruction. She was of a mild and humane disposition, and the labors of the missionaries thrived under her administration. Ingenious reports were indeed spread abroad that the King was not dead, that he was still living, that his treaty with Mr. Lambert was valid, etc., well calculated to unsettle government and society, but order gradually became established, and the number of Christians increased to a degree that was almost astonishing. The Queen was in fact so lenient that it was suspected at times that she adhered to her idols merely as a matter of expediency, in order to retain a hold of the ancient prejudices of the country. The houses of worship were crowded every Sabbath.
Through the agency of military officers and traders the principles of the Christian religion became extended from the capital into the provinces; and every convert that was made among the natives, became a missionary, as it were, to his relatives and friends.
At length, in 1865, a treaty was ratified between the Government of Madagascar and Great Britain, In this treaty Earl Russel, the English Minister, stipulated for provisions securing civil and religious freedom, both to native Christians and to missionaries. The Church has continued flourishing without interruption. In 1866 there were eight large congregations in the capital, which was then supposed to contain 30,000 inhabitants, and sixteen churches in the surrounding villages. It was estimated that in these villages there were 3,000 communicants and 15,000 converts; and there is every evidence that the Christian religion has taken a permanent hold of the people of Madagascar. In another generation it bids fair to be reckoned among the Christian nations of the earth.
From the year 1866 we do not meet with anything of much special interest concerning Madagascar until 1874, when two English gentlemen, Dr. Mullens and Mr. Pillan, visited the island to see what farther might be done there for extending the interests of the missionary cause. The result of this visit was, in the words of Dr. Mullens, ‘‘to shape out the framework of an enlarged mission.” It was proposed to thoroughly fit up the training college for native pastors, to push forward the normal school system, and to make native agency more effective, and to encourage the missionaries by exciting a new interest in the work at home. There were about a thousand congregations organized in the island, though it was thought that the membership of sincere Christians was not over 30,000. The rolls did indeed contain 60,000 names, but in view of the facility and eagerness with which native pastors admitted members, it was believed that this number exaggerated the total of the true native Christians. But it was certain that the entire 300,000 among whom the Lon-London Society was laboring had renounced their idols and were in the way of becoming true converts to the Christian faith. The favorable report of these gentlemen doubtless stimulated the friends of the Society to renewed efforts. Besides the London Missionary Society, the Friends and Norwegians had promising missions on the island, each covering districts of about 100,000 people. In this year, 1874, an English Bishop was appointed for the island.
The next notice of the island that arrests our attention, and which needs to be recorded in order to give the reader an idea of the progress of the English missionary operations, is contained in the following statements of the special envoy of the British government, Gose Jones, to the Queen of Madagascar, in 1882. This gentleman stated at a public meeting in London that on landing at Tananarivo, whither he was sent as Conmmander-in-chief of the East Indian naval station to congratulate the Queen of Madagascar, he was surprised to find what manner of people the Malagasy were. He found Tananarive to be a really splendid city, with magnificent public buildings. The house he lodged at was as good as any in London, and there was a Roman Catholic church which would not disgrace Paris.
The Prime Minister, who was, curiously enough, husband of the Queen, and almost the most intelligent, astute, and cleverest man he had ever met, occupied a splendid official residence.
The Premier knew precisely how far he could advance in the path of civilization, and where to stop. No outside people could so well control the Malagasy as the present Prime Minister, During the Queen's reign of ten years he had publicly abolished idol worship and embraced Christianity. The nobles of the land as well as the mass of the population were now Christians. The Premier was an educational reformer, and had established numerous schools. He had abolished "trial by poison," a superstitious rite which used to decimate the country. It was intended to make the Queen de facto as well as de jure the monarch of the island, and it was a great pity that any disturbance should come to the existing state of things. Among other beneficient changes the Prime Minister had wrought in the government of the island, at the hazard of his life, was the abolition of the introduction of slaves from Africa. He did this with one stroke of the pen, and in doing it he did away with what might be called the "material wealth" of Madagascar, A man had before been considered richer or poorer in proportion to the number of slaves he owned. A natural anxiety prevailed that a country which had so far progressed in civilization should not go back.
By the beginning of 1883 an embassy was received in England from the Queen of Madagascar, and its members were entertained by the government and people with the most respectful and considerate attention, everything of interest being shown to them in a way to heighten their regard for the Christian civilization and power of Great Britain, as well as for the kindness and benevolence of the citizens and missionaries.
This embassy subsequently visited the United States, where it arrived in the month of March 1883, and entered into treaty stipulations with our government. Thus, during the present century, and chiefly through missionary agency, Madagascar has passed from a state of pagan barbarism to one of Christian civilization, in which it has entered and taken a stand among the Christian nations of the world.